The Jewish Mary


Merry Christmas Eve – always a very special day of celebration in the Murphy family. This year, 95% of our Christmas preparations are complete – so today there’s none of the harried rush. Oh happy day!

Today, Christmas Eve, was my mother and father’s wedding anniversary! They were wed December 24, 1935 in Carthage, MS. Just why they chose Christmas Eve, I never heard. But ‘their day‘ never interfered with ‘our day‘ for my sister Mary Lily and me. Mom and Dad celebrated their abiding love 365 days of the year. And that was the best Christmas gift they ever gave us.

But you’re probably wondering about The Jewish Mary.

During the 80s my sister Mary and her husband Wayne lived just off base near Fort Campbell, where Wayne was stationed. Always the entrepreneurs, they also operated a stained glass studio in their garage. Vandals threw a rock through a stained glass window of a local Catholic Church, shattering the head of Mary. Wayne and my sister got the job of restoration.

They picked up the shattered pieces, and painstakingly taped them back together to use as a pattern. Then they called me to come help with the project. Now Mary is an accomplished artists herself, yet she called me to do the painting of Mary.

Working in painted stained glass is not like working with paint on paper. It’s a involved process. The ‘paint‘ was more like mud than paint. Then it took over a day to fire (bake) and fuse the paint with the glass. It had to cool down slowly. This was NOT an overnight process!

But finally, Mother Mary was finished! She was delivered to the church elders for approval and payment. NOT. My tedious work was rejected! It was rejected on the grounds that Mary looked TOO JEWISH!

My extended family was/is protestant. I remember hearing as a child that there was such a thing as a ‘Catholic Bible,’ which was, supposedly, somewhat different from ours. I never learned the truth of this tale from childhood. But maybe…